One of the problems with a 24 hour infotainment (aka news) cycle is that there is constant pressure to come up with “new content.” If I don’t post something for a day or so I get messages from the usual social media suspects that “your thousands of followers haven’t heard from you in a while, write something!” Honestly, given my research subjects, I think most of my followers are perfectly happy NOT hearing from me. But if you’re in the professional content business you have your kleptocaptialist corporate masters to serve, so you have to come up with something. So you do. Even if it’s more trivia than information or news – the more inflammatory the better. So, if deaths are down in one area, play them up in another. The political shenanigans are always great for hits, and politicians are always looking for a camera to love. “Things are moving along as predicted, hang in there, nothing new to report” just doesn’t sell the latest prescription drugs (insert rant here).
So where do things stand? There is water under the ocean (same as it ever was). The numbers and forecasts haven’t really changed a lot, so as frustrating, boring, and economically harmful as it is, keep on keeping on with the CDC guidelines.
Internationally, Italy and Spain are slowly converging – slower, and to a higher mortality rate than I would have thought, around high 4 to 5 per 10k. France is also on a bad trajectory, headed towards the neighborhood of 4 deaths per 10,000 population. Other countries like the Netherlands and Sweden, are lower and potentially headed to a number closer to 3, but are still in the growth part of the curve. Germany is substantially lower, and may end up at or around one per 10k. A quiet success story is Canada, who is on a similar trajectory to Germany and may avoid their recent higher bump. Here’s the latest plot of representative countries; click to embiggen:
A key problem in the US is there is so much noise because of the totally screwed up testing situation and inconsistent reporting that there seems like more going on than there really is. We are seeing various parts of the country, with different sources and timing of exposure (west coast Asia and early, east coast Europe and later, with some intermixing), and different timing and intensity of mitigation measures (and measures changing, like in Georgia where cities put in place more restrictions than the state, then the state overrode the cities). so we are seeing peaking at different rates and times. Due to density, New York is largely driving the US numbers right now. Here is the US plot …
It’s really hard to tell just what is going on in some states. Washington is obviously a success story. California seems to be – it does not seem that the virus has gotten in to the major cities or if it has, it is going undetected. Florida is very likely a testing and reporting problem. Georgia is known to have testing delays, but the “curve” may be right (just shifted to the right by 3 or 4 days). The rest sort of speak for themselves. New York should start to turn this weekend; cases seem to be down, so deaths should follow, but I would caution here in that for Italy and Spain they did not turn as quickly as was hoped. New York is on track for a mortality rate in the neighborhood of 6 per 10,000, New Jersey perhaps a bit less (between 5 and 6).
A big story in the US the last few days has been the “racial disparity” in deaths. This is inflammatory and inaccurate to some extent. While there may well be some actual racial differences in the way the virus attacks various ethnic groups – and even blood types – (due the prevalence of a certain protein in the lungs this virus likes), the biggest differences we are seeing are due to purely socioeconomic factors like population density, underlying health status, and income. In the US, African Americans are disproportionately represented in all of these risk factors for a variety of complex reasons. <begin political comment> So be very careful about attributing this to something it isn’t. Like virtually all issues in the US, this is driven mostly by economics and political control; ethnic groups are simply caught up in that narrative. <end political comment>
See you next time something isn’t changing 😛